Inspiration

Milestone – 100

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The above congratulatory image came across my blog notifications with my last post and I have to say I was a little surprised to see it. I hadn’t been following my stats that closely since I hit the last milestone so I am happy to see I have lasted this long, though admittedly I probably would have gotten here faster had I not taken nearly a year-long break.

I started this blog on a whim and have found that I really enjoy it. I enjoy writing. I get to say what I want or highlight something I think is worthy of people knowing; if people are paying attention and are interested in my words, well that is just a bonus! My wife thinks me spending time on this thing is silly but, oh well, you can’t win them all over…

These days I do most of my writing while I am at work (not while working!), during my lunch hour. It doesn’t give me a lot of time to write and it takes longer than I would like to get some things finished and published, but it is usually quiet and I have a little time to focus on something I like to do. I guess in some ways, it relaxes me.

Anyway, to mark the occasion I thought I would review some of the stats I have accumulated over the last 100 posts and see where I have come from, which might just give me some direction in where I am going…or not. I read lots of blogs and there are so many out there with a singular focus, but that is not something I have ever wanted to do. Maybe that is why my “readership” is low, but who knows for sure. Maybe I just don’t choose topics that people are interested in. Either way, I write about things I care about and if others care too, great. If not, that’s ok too.

TOP 10 (Views)

These are based on views, but I am sure not all of these are based on “reads” so much as some may have something to do with hits because of “image searches.” But I guess I’ll never really know for sure.

  1. Redbox Chat – Customer Service Lost in Translation
  2. Milestone – 50
  3. Parental Detention (or, I’m Making a Point for My Child)
  4. Let’s Review…
  5. Dollar Shave Club: Review
  6. About    (apparently people wonder who I am?)
  7. Don’t Be So Bossy!
  8. Easter is Better Than Christmas – Why?
  9. Goodbye, Gramps
  10. “Can you please call the police”

TOP 10 (My Preference)

These are the posts I enjoyed writing the most and believe they are worth reading if you give them a gander or two, but that’s just me…have a click and let me know what you think!

  1. Goodbye, Gramps
  2. Gaffigan and Giggles
  3. I Kissed a Girl, and I Liked It!
  4. Eject “God Bless America” from Baseball.
  5. Bullying – Do Children Need to be Taught to Cope Better?
  6. Pet Perturbed
  7. The American Oligarchy
  8. Duck, Duck, Genocide
  9. Thankful for a Gift
  10. The Debate: What is “Life”?

Scope (or reach)

One thing that continues to amaze me is the scope (or reach) of this little blog. It amazes me that something I post could be read or viewed by so many people around the globe. I am always interested to look at the little map of views and see where people are “checking in” from. I know the internet makes things more accessible and I shouldn’t be that amazed but it just fascinates me. Looking at the stats for this particular category I can see that I my blog has been viewed from 96 different countries!

That is a pretty amazing stat to me. Of course, a majority of the views have been from North America and Europe, but there are some little countries in remote places too. Pretty cool and I hope the views from different countries continues to grow so I can add even more countries to the list. Is it possible to get at least one view from every country?

Readers/Subscribers

Here is one place I hope to grow, and quickly! More than half of the people who are listed as “followers” are from my Facebook friends. That’s great and probably most of my views come from things I post that are also posted on Facebook. But, I would like to get the number of “followers,” real followers, up. If I am reading the stats correctly, I have about 155. Not bad for someone who doesn’t post on a regular schedule, nor has a specific topic to focus on, but I would love to grow that number. If anyone has a suggestion or three about how to do that, I would love to hear from you!

Closing thoughts…

Thanks for indulging and reading my review of the first 100 posts. I appreciate everyone who has stopped by, and especially those who keep stopping by. You all give me a little jolt of confidence each time you do.

If you have been around for a while or have read more than a few words on here, I would like some feedback. What do you like? What do you not like? What do you think I should focus on, if anything? Where should I go with this from here? I am sure you all have ideas about what you might like to see more of, or less of…so shoot me some feedback. I’ll listen, I promise!

Thanks.

Ryan

Goodbye, Gramps

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I knew it was coming, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. It was just a matter of time, but it’s a time you never want to arrive.

He turned 91 just this past September. He’d had several episodes of going in and out of the hospital, but he always came back out – sometimes not quite the same as he went in.

I have been extremely blessed with something I know a lot of my friends and acquaintances haven’t had – until last week, all four of my grandparents were still living. It is something really special for someone to know their grandparent(s) into adulthood. Many people only have vague memories of their grandparents while they were children, or visited so infrequently they never really got to know them. Often, the memories aren’t really memories so much as they are memories given/created by others via conversations and stories, pictures, or maybe a video. So, I am keenly aware of how lucky I have been.

I am struggling with what to write as memories come rushing back to flood my mind, and my eyes, with happiness and joy.

I guess I don’t really need to say much about those.

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I told him to smile for a selfie…this is what I got!

I just need a place to express remembrance and appreciation for a man who loved his wife (their 69th wedding anniversary was the day before his passing) and his children. For raising my dad in a loving home. For raising his family in a home of Christian faith and passing that legacy on to the rest of his family. For working hard, at two jobs (a fruit orchard and a factory) and teaching his family the value of hard work. For having a wry sense of humor and a mischievous smile. For all the time spent camping, and fishing, and playing cards, and laughing. For all the stories of life on the farm. For going back to the family farm in South Dakota and telling us about his younger life in a sod house on the prairie. For the story of outrunning and catching a jack rabbit in the orchard. For the times of sharing meals. For the quiet times sitting on the patio, sharing conversation, a sunset, a cool breeze, and sometimes even a beer. For the garden goodies he grew every year. For his mealtime prayer that never changed and I will forever hear in my head, “God is great and God is good and we thank Him for this food.”

Now, he is home in Heaven with his Savior. He is in His presence, praising the One who gave him life. He is whole again.

I am sure he is now fishing, gardening and farming, playing cards, talking with his parents and the son he lost to cancer while a toddler. He is hanging out and laughing with the siblings that have gone on before him. He is, no doubt, preparing a place for those who will come after him as well – because that is the type of person he was.

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Tools of my grandfather – bench vise and a pole saw he used on the farm.

Saying goodbye to Gramps is, after all, not really a goodbye. It’s just a “see you later.” Cliche, I know, but I believe it really is the truth. I know that one day we will sit together again and do the things we enjoyed here on Earth, because we have been given and accepted a promise.

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A few quiet moments with Gramps, hours before he joined his Heavenly Father.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

I hope you have that knowledge too. The knowledge and assurance that death is not the end for a loved one, or for yourself. That one day you will be reunited, because it sure takes the sting out of death.

Am I still sad? Yes, of course. Not because I have no hope, but because of the missed opportunities I could have had with him or the opportunities my own kids will miss too. But, with the sadness comes rejoicing as well. How can I not be happy for him as he continues to live, living in triumph over death? There is still a funeral and memorial to come, but for now this will do. Goodbye is so hard to say, and yet…

“Welcome to Heaven, Harold! You are going to be missed down there because you were really loved. But don’t you worry, your family knows where you are and they are celebrating too. We have lots of time and I’ll show you around in a bit. But first, how about I show you a thing or two at canasta…”

Goodbye, Gramps.

Positive Post-it

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What if you were given a fresh, new pad of Post-it notes that came with a requirement?

Let’s pretend I just gave you a pad and the requirement is that you could only use the notes to pass out encouragement to others, whenever and wherever you can.

  1. How would you use them? Sign them or make them anonymous?
  2. Where would you use them? Leave them in the open or hide them to be found as a surprise another day?
  3. Who would you leave notes for? Obviously you have friends and family that could use some encouragement, but have you ever considered leaving encouragement for strangers – maybe on the bus, at the restaurant, while you are shopping, or at work? Why?? Well, maybe the stranger did or said something that you noticed and deserves a compliment. There could be any number of reasons, but the cool thing is you get to decide.

With all the negativity floating around in the world these days, it would be nice to spread some love and encourage people instead of tearing them down. What do you think?

Are you up to the challenge?

**NOTE** Comment what you would do, or who you would encourage in the comments below. OR, if you want, I would really like if you could take a photo of your notes and post them in the comments. Let’s build a “blog post of positive!”

What if you could rewrite your life?

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Ever have one of those days?

Ever have one of those days where the “What ifs…” begin to wander in and you start to think about what you would have done differently? What you would do if you could go back and start over?

I am not having one of those days; but, as my pen lay on the notepad in front of me, I had a moment of creative inspiration with an app on my phone so I decided to record it and create. I guess, for a moment, I was being philosophical.

So, tell me, have you had one of those days? Or, moments? Tell me your “blank page” moment/story in the comments – what would you do if you could rewrite your life?

Gaffigan and Giggles

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That is one happy girl! Tickets to Jim Gaffigan’s “Noble Ape” tour.

She waited a long time for this night, since April in fact. We asked her what she would like for her birthday – something tangible or an experience – weeks in advance and she chose an experience. Before her birthday arrived, the chance to do something we knew she enjoyed came up on Groupon so we took the opportunity to get something she would enjoy. We knew she would enjoy it because she has enjoyed every one of the Jim Gaffigan’s specials on Netflix. So, now was her chance.

It was hard for her to wait, I mean, it was almost six months before she could enjoy her birthday present. She has watched him on Netflix over and over. She has listened to him on Spotify over and over. She has been patient, though it was hard. But the tour had finally arrived in Seattle and off we went! And as we went, she played DJ in the car and we listened to tunes the whole trip.

First Stop

Our first stop was for dinner. I asked her about where she wanted to stop but she didn’t have too many ideas. I mentioned a couple of places, but nothing sounded like it was a winner with her until I mentioned a place we have gone to several times for different trips to “the big city.” We didn’t want to battle too much downtown Seattle traffic so we decided to grab a favorite just north of town. It’s cheap, it’s greasy, but it is fairly tasty.

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It just so happened that this evening there was also a Washington Husky game in town, so there were lots of people in the parking lot and a wide variety of people to watch as we downed our food. It was certainly a happening place while we were there…but it was also dinner time too!

Seattle Center

After dinner we headed down to Seattle Center. We knew we would have time to kill so we found some parking and wandered around the iconic area, the place of the 1962 World’s Fair.

As it turns out, there was a festival going on with people wandering around with aromatic food and colorful clothing. There was music too! Again, there were lots of different people to watch and we found an art gallery that was open so we wandered that to start with.

We saw the sights, we took pictures, we “played tourist” as she said.

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Jim Gaffigan – The Noble Ape

We stood in line and did the now ever-present security check to get into the event. This process was a little different from what I was used to going through at a sporting event, but we made it through fairly quickly and made our way to our seats in Key Arena…our seats clear up in the “nose bleed” section (second row from the top, if you must know). I actually expected to have a little better seats than we got for the price I paid, but I guess that is for another discussion, another day.

We watched people come and go. We discussed the music the house was playing – all seeming favorites of hers, all very current. We talked about the other artist’s tours that were coming and which ones she would like to go to. We just had a nice time visiting. Laughing. Joking. Testing each other’s knowledge of the music.

Then came “the warning.” The warning about not filming or taking pictures during the performance (yeah, like that is going to be happening…I mean, not me of course…) so we took some pictures before it started. Really, there wasn’t much to see in the one I took. (I tried to scale it to what it actually looked like instead of blowing it up and making it look like something better than it was.)

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Inside Key Arena – view from our seats

The opening act (can’t remember his name) was pretty good and we laughed. I am not sure how much she totally got – I mean, he was talking about being a guy in his 50s and the aches and pains that go along with age so she couldn’t really relate, but I could. I think she enjoyed watching me laugh at the jokes. I could be wrong. I am, after all, her dad…

We both really enjoyed Gaffigan though. Even for as much as we have watched and listened to him prior to the performance, he really did have mostly new material. There was only a little bit that was a repeat from other shows and, as my daughter put it, “he expanded on the topic a little more tonight.”

What I loved was watching her. What I loved was watching her laugh uncontrollably with a smile as big as her face. She giggled. Her eyes sparkled. She was having a good time and memories were made, that was the goal.

It was over too fast. The performance, that is. It seemed like it had just gotten started and then it was over and time to file out of The Key like cattle. We walked back through Seattle Center and stopped to take a couple more pictures, specifically one that would kind of encapsulate the whole evening – an early and late picture of the Space Needle (almost three hours apart).

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Space Needle – 6pm & 9pm

We piled back into the car and made our way back north to home. We talked about what we liked best about the show. She can be rather insightful when she wants to be! The conversation didn’t last long though. She was ready to play DJ once again and we rocked out to a wide variety of music (even some old 80’s music “just for me,” but she likes it too).

As she gets older, and busier, I cherish these times. I know they will get fewer and farther between, but for tonight it was perfect. Just giggles, smiles, and laughter perfect.

Missing the Good Stuff Sucks

Missing the good stuff in life isn’t something I relish, especially when it involves my kids. I want to be there for the things they do, whether it be sports or drama or choir or a community function or major things like graduation and moving up ceremonies. Those things are important and the support of knowing your parents are there to support you is one of the best things to help your kids feel safe and secure in this world. I know I really appreciated that my parents made it to as many things as possible when I was a kid. I didn’t always express my appreciation like I should have, but it did mean a lot.

Today is tough for me because I am missing something I feel I should be at. Instead, because of my job, I am missing it. So, instead of doing what I should be doing I am taking a moment to vent my frustration. I doubt it will help me feel better, but I just can’t help it. What’s worse about this whole thing is that it is because of my job that I am missing it and it is my profession that makes it more difficult on people, specifically parents.

You see, today my son is “graduating” from the 8th grade. It is really just a moving up ceremony and in the grand scheme of educational things it isn’t that important. BUT, it is important to him! Unfortunately, I am missing it. Missing the good stuff sucks.

Why am I missing it? Well, I am a teacher and work for a completely different school district than both of my school aged children. What that means is that I end up missing many of their school related activities. Parent/teacher conferences, concerts or performances that take place during the school day, celebrations at school, graduations/moving-up ceremonies…you name it, I probably have missed it because I was fulfilling my teacher duties somewhere else. I am not sure why school districts schedule things during the work day. It doesn’t make sense to me and I am sure there are reasons I don’t know of, but either way it is frustrating. I am sure there are many parents who are missing the ceremony today because they have work obligations, that is the unfortunate thing schools do.

Anyway, all that to say I am proud of you, son. You have grown up so much over the last few years and this transition will be a big one for you. You worked hard this year, made some mistakes and grew from them. You worked hard this year, learned some new things about yourself and the subjects you were studying. You worked hard this year and experienced some great successes as well. You have tried new things, some you liked and some you didn’t. You are moving up in this world and I can’t wait to see where life continues to take you.

Congratulations, and I love you.

Change Is In The Air

Sometimes, you just get tired of doing things the way you have always done them.

Sometimes, you realize nothing will change if you don’t have the guts to risk something hard.

Sometimes, you’re just tired.

Change is in the air. Not something as simple as moving the furniture around the living room, going to bed earlier to get more rest, or working out more to lose some weight. No, this change is intended to put my (our) family and future in a better place.

Sure there will be people who say it isn’t smart, or wise. There will probably even be people who say I’m (or we’re) stupid for even trying. But, what about those people in history who didn’t listen to the people around them, even the ones they respected and looked up to the most? What if those people never made a decision to step out and risk something in order to get to something greater? Where would we be without them? How different would our lives be then?

So, for now some encouragement to take hard, positive steps and make harder long-term decisions. In the end, the road may be long but anything worth having is worth working for, right? At least that’s what our parents told us when we were kids and wanted something right NOW. Time to put those words into action and see if mom and dad were right…oh, and they were. I am not where I am today without listening to them once in a while. However, we need reminders of these things once in a while and now is as good as any.

There is more to come…

PS: If you needed some encouragement today to do something hard, then you can take some from me. You’re welcome!

A Forever Family Needs Help!

Help bring Chloe home!  *Regulations say I can't show you her face yet*

Help bring Chloe home!
*Regulations say I can’t show you her face yet*

The beautiful little girl above has the opportunity to go home to her forever family this year! But, she needs help. FAST!

I have written about this adoption before, If Ever There Was A Good Cause, but that was before there was an actual, real face and child to think about. The idea was there and there was a goal, but it was just so unreal and seemingly intangible. Well, things have changed and there is now a very real, very tangible goal in mind. But time is short, so anything you can do (no matter how small it may be) helps bring this pretty little girl one step closer to her new home in Hawaii with an amazing family.

They are trying to raise funds in a very short amount of time to help defray the costs of the adoption, which includes traveling to China to meet her for the first time and bring her home. With about two months to go, they could use some help, like right now!!

I am including the links to their fundraising efforts so that you can help them be successful! But most of all, for a little child of God to come home to a family that has loved her for a long time without even knowing her. Again, there can be no greater cause than this.

GoFundMe

MyThirtyOne.com

purecharity.com

Thanks so much for considering this as a way to change the world, one life at a time. Be the difference in one life.